Dear Mrs Justiss,
“A Most Unconventional Match” lives up to its name. I fear that the back blurb won’t give readers much enticement to choose it over any other Regency set historical though. When I first read it, I thought, “hmmmm, okay. Sounds….nice.” Which I would guess is not the “gotta buy this now!” response you’re looking for from potential readers. Yet, as the story progressed I found myself hoping others will give it a try.
Large, handsome Hal Waterman is a man who stands out in a crowd but one who takes no pleasure from doing so. He has more than the usual Regency hero’s nonsensical reticence to step into the parson’s mousetrap. He actually has a reason. Left fatherless at a young age, Hal had to endure his beautiful mother’s scorn for his awkwardness and stuttering. Then he gets treated to years of her matchmaking with ruthless determination. It’s no wonder he tries to avoid her though I do wish he wouldn’t tar all women with the same brush. I was happy to see him quickly come to his senses about Elizabeth, a woman he had misjudged then and continued to initially distrust, after he has a chance to see beyond the facade of how she looks.
Recently widowed Elizabeth Lowery is a walking example of why women, even today, need to be made aware of finances and money management from an early age. Too bad she wasn’t or she’d have realized just how badly her beloved, late husband had bungled things. I mean, I’d have thought any widow would know that at least there should be a will. And shame on her mother for not making sure she was schooled in household management. Even if it was left to an elderly relative of her husband’s, she shouldn’t have been left totally adrift about when and how to pay the servants and buy household supplies. But I’ll be honest and admit that there are times I put off hard decisions or things I just don’t want to deal with in favor of doing something pleasant.
And so it was delightful to watch Elizabeth come out of her shell and begin to confidently make changes in her life as well as see Hal begin to hope this beautiful woman would see past his abrupt way of speaking. I liked that Elizabeth has good feelings about sexual relations and that she’s the one to finally make the move on Hal, much to his delight. I like that Hal quickly realizes what will give the painter in Elizabeth pleasure and tries to develop her as an artist.
There were times when I was afraid we were headed into Big Mis (or even little mis) territory but thankfully they were avoided in the end. The villain is handled and dispatched – by Elizabeth! – without being dragged back into the plot unnecessarily. You even turn mama’s attempt to matchmake into an opportunity for Elizabeth to display her newfound confidence.
I was disappointed for mama to remain a one note harpy despite what she says in the epilogue though Elizabeth’s defense of Hal is sweet. I also dislike the role played by the late husband – though usually this is given to the heroine’s father instead – of head-up-his-ass idiot who can’t manage money to save his moronic life. I also wondered at the fuss about Elizabeth’s sister’s wedding not taking place in a church. Why is this worthy of space in this book?
But overall, I was very pleased when I closed the book. What are two nice leads who don’t act like putzes, a book that isn’t filled with the almost obligatory Regency slang and Regency references and a sexually aware widow? Bliss. Thank you. B